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This commentary describes the impressions of a first-time attendee from a small liberal arts college (SLAC) to the Research Data Access and Preservation (RDAP) Summit, in May 2019, and observations about the makeup of the conference in terms of types of jobs and types of institutions represented among the attendees. The author also outlines a more general difficulty librarians from any institution face in adapting lessons learned and examples given by research data management librarians at other institutions, due to differences in institutional structure. The commentary suggests ways data management professionals might make reuse of ideas and solutions easier for one another, by analyzing why solutions work at different types of institutions, and by developing our understanding of how to replicate successful projects and practices in different organizational structures. The author discusses the value of attending RDAP Summit for librarians from smaller institutions such as SLACs, and compares the RDAP experience with professional development opportunities regarding data librarianship that are available on a region-by-region basis.

The substance of this article is based upon the author’s experience at RDAP Summit 2019.


RDAP, SLAC, small liberal arts college, professional development, conference, research data services, data management, librarian, instructional technologist


The author would like to acknowledge Alisa K. Beer for her helpful feedback on a draft of this article. The author reports no conflicts of interest. The author's funding to attend RDAP Summit 2019 was paid by their employer.

Corresponding Author

Sarah K. Oelker, Mount Holyoke College, Science Librarian, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075; soelker@mtholyoke.edu

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Copyright Oelker © 2019

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.